The commercial umbrella/excess policy is designed to protect against catastrophic losses. It is usually written as a specified limit which sits over other primary liability policies—for example: the business auto policy, the commercial general liability policy, and employers liability. The umbrella/excess policy serves three purposes: it provides excess limits when underlying liability policies have been exhausted by the payment of claims; it drops down and picks up where underlying policies leave off when the aggregate limit of an underlying policy is exhausted; and it provides coverage for some claims that are not covered by underlying policies.

Here’s what you need to know about commercial umbrella and excess liability insurance:

  • There are very few true umbrella policies left in the current insurance marketplace. A true umbrella policy would provide broader coverage than what is found in the underlying policies and would become primary when underlying aggregates are exhausted.

  • Most policies today are called, Follow Form Excess Policies. This means that the excess policy follows the exact terms that are written into the underlying policies. The policies are generally excess over the commercial general liability, commercial auto policy and the employers liability section of the workers compensation policy.

  • Your umbrella/excess policy has nothing to do with your property policy. Underinsuring your property exposure will never be picked up by an umbrella/excess policy.

  • The self-insured retention is not necessarily a deductible. The self insured retention is the amount that the insured is responsible for but only applies in certain loss situations. It comes into play when a claim is not covered by an underlying policy but is payable under the excess policy.


Swingle, Collins & Associates specializes in Commercial Umbrella/Excess Liability Insurance coverage in Dallas, Southlake, Westlake, Plano, Coppell, Irving, Argyle and the surrounding areas.  The descriptions of Commercial Umbrella/Excess Liability Insurance coverage listed on this website are brief and subject to the provisions, limitations, and exclusions that can only be expressed in your policy and related endorsements. For additional information of how Swingle, Collins & Associates can assist in meeting your Commercial Umbrella/Excess Liability Insurance coverage needs, please contact your dedicated risk manager. The information contained on this page is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It contains general information on insurance issues and may not reflect the most current developments in insurance coverage and is unlikely to apply in all factual scenarios. The information does not include all the terms, coverage, exclusions, limitations or conditions that may be contained in the actual insurance contract language. The policies themselves must be read for those details. Sample policy forms will be made available upon reasonable request.